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BCL-2, BCL-X(L) sequester BH3 domain-only molecules preventing BAX- and BAK-mediated mitochondrial apoptosis.

Authors:
Cheng EH, Wei MC, Weiler S, Flavell RA, Mak TW, Lindsten T, Korsmeyer SJ
Affiliation:
Journal:
Molecular cell

Abstract

Critical issues in apoptosis include the importance of caspases versus organelle dysfunction, dominance of anti- versus proapoptotic BCL-2 members, and whether commitment occurs upstream or downstream of mitochondria. Here, we show cells deficient for the downstream effectors Apaf-1, Caspase-9, or Caspase-3 display only transient protection from "BH3 domain-only" molecules and die a caspase-independent death by mitochondrial dysfunction. Cells with an upstream defect, lacking "multidomain" BAX, BAK demonstrate long-term resistance to all BH3 domain-only members, including BAD, BIM, and NOXA. Comparison of wild-type versus mutant BCL-2, BCL-X(L) indicates these antiapoptotics sequester BH3 domain-only molecules in stable mitochondrial complexes, preventing the activation of BAX, BAK. Thus, in mammals, BH3 domain-only molecules activate multidomain proapoptotic members to trigger a mitochondrial pathway, which both releases cytochrome c to activate caspases and initiates caspase-independent mitochondrial dysfunction.

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